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Making Introductions - Paul Tevis

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August 19th, 2009

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07:55 am - Making Introductions
This past weekend, I met Jess Hartley. I've been aware of her for years, but until now our social circles have only touched and never completely overlapped. Meeting cool new people is one of the reasons that I go to conventions, so I was happy this worked out.

Jess just started a series of articles about geek etiquette, a project she's calling One Geek To Another. The first post deals with introductions, and Jess is right on in pointing out the value of introductions and how rarely they happen well. Connecting people with each other is something I do a lot of, so I wanted to share a few of my techniques for getting introductions right.

If I'm part of a group that someone who I do know comes up to, I'll make introductions unless I'm sure the people have already been introduced. (Watching body language is a good way to figure out if people know each other). My introduction in this case will run something like, "I'm sorry, I don't remember if you've met. Eric, do you know Steve? Steve's the author of X, Eric's the art director at Y." The key is I make it my problem, not the problem of the person who doesn't know everyone else.

If I'm part of a group that someone who I don't know comes up to, I'll wait for a minute for someone else to introduce them. If that doesn't happen (and it often doesn't), I'll take the initiative: "Hi, I don't think we've met. I'm Paul." This a technique I'd like to see more of, as it's not as widespread as the one above.

If I'm the new guy to the group, I'll treat it much like the second situation. If no one is actively engaging me in conversation, I'll wait until there's a break and then introduce myself. This is hard, and it feels awkward, but it's a lot less awkward than not doing it.

The key to all three of these is timing. The more time that goes by without an introduction, the more difficult things get. If a good conversational opening doesn't present itself, I'll jump in with "I'm sorry to interrupt, but..."

This is pretty basic stuff, but as Jess points out, it does a lot to make those awkward social situations less awkward.

Originally published at paultevis.com.

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